Oct 23, 2016 | By Benedict

Two Canadian game-lovers have created a novelty musical instrument inspired by classic Nintendo cartridges. The Blotendo Harmonicartridge, a cross between a NES cartridge and a harmonica, was prototyped on a 3D printer and is currently available for $19 through Kickstarter.

One day, when watching a friend blowing into an unidentified grey object, Canadian Brady Grumpelt became momentarily confused: was this friend, whom Grumpelt had never identified as the Bob Dylan type, attempting to play the harmonica? The dull and atonal sounds coming from the object strongly suggested otherwise, and the truth eventually dawned on Grumpelt: the grey object was a Nintendo cartridge, Super Mario Bros or such like, and the friend was simply trying to blow the dust out of it. The mystery was solved, but the moment struck a chord with Grumpelt—the Edmonton resident could not shake the nagging feeling that a Nintendo cartridge could, and indeed should, be turned into a harmonica.

After some initial brainstorming, Grumpelt and friend Ryan Senger hopped through a network of green pipes to the nearby Made by Sloan, a 3D printing and laser cutting specialist in Edmonton. The company’s resident 3D printing expert Luke Sloan was able to turn the unusual idea, sketched out in CAD software, into a 3D printed prototype. In no time at all, Grumpelt and Senger had turned a confusion-induced (final) fantasy into a musical reality, using only CAD, a 3D printer, and a CNC machine. Living in a world of relentless nostalgia, the pair immediately recognized the commercially potential of the novelty instrument, and set up a Kickstarter campaign to see if the game-loving, music-playing public would be interested in buying the device, by this time named the “Blotendo Harmonicartridge.”

A promising start to the campaign and a surge of media interest appears to have confirmed the pair’s suspicions, and it’s easy to see why. According to Grumpelt, the Blotendo Harmonicartridge fits nicely in the pocket, is customizable (a number of “game” covers will become available depending on the success of the Kickstarter), and has a “crisp sound,” playing in the key of C. One of the most fun parts of the Blotendo Harmonicartridge is the product’s custom label feature, currently in beta. Using this feature, players can design a Nintendo-style game cover featuring an 8-bit custom character. The character can be given custom clothing, hair styles, accessories, and backgrounds, making the instrument a cool gift idea for a game-obsessed friend.

The team has now tested out a few iterations of the 3D printed instrument, and has settled on the ideal design which can be made quickly and efficiently in North America. Although the Kickstarter page does not specify how the cartridge instrument will be made, 3D printing will presumably be forsaken in favor of injection molding.

The project’s Kickstarter campaign has a $4,000 goal, with over $2,900 already pledged. If enough backers order a Harmonicartridge (still available from $19), delivery will begin in December, with the products expected to arrive before Christmas.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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